Critical Approach to Man’s Use of Modern Technology; Tess and the Honud Character's Analysis

Critical Approach to Man’s Use of Modern Technology; Tess and the Honud Character's Analysis

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Both Tess, of the D’Urbervilles, and The Hound, of the Baskervilles, take a critical approach to man’s use of modern technology is manners that impose on or damage the natural world. The theme is explored in several instances in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, with the first clear example being the death of the Durbeyville horse, Prince, by a modernized mail-cart. The new form of transportation sped along the road “like an arrow” and drove into the Durbeyville’s “slow and unlighted equipage. The pointed shaft of the cart had entered the breast of the unhappy Prince like a sword, and from the wound his life's blood was spouting in a stream. [...] Tess became splashed from face to skirt with the crimson drops.” The death of the Prince symbolizes nature’s suffering at the mercy of advancing technology. Arguably, Tess also imposes on nature by using the horse for transportation. However, Hardy is more concerned with the irresponsible haste of techological innovation that was destroying the natural world during the early 20th century. To this end, Abraham later remarks that, “Tis because we be on a blighted star, and not a sound one, isn't it, Tess?" implying that the horse’s death occurred because our relationship with nature is growing increasingly unstable. Another example of humanity’s increasing imposition on nature is the D’Urberville mansion, that Tess describes as being, “almost new—and of the same rich red colour that formed such a contrast with the evergreens of the lodge.” The contrasting bright colors of the house with the calm surrounding landscape emphasizes the intrusion which the capitalist Alec D’Urberville has made upon nature. This idea foreshadow Alec’s rape of Tess, which is also symbolic of the new industrialized capit...

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... against intrusions by man. Even the brilliant protagonist Sherlock Holmes is disrupted by the appearance of fog on the moors that he claims is, “the one thing upon earth which could have disarranged [his] plans.” The ending of The Hounds of the Baskervilles concludes with Stapleton meeting his fate for violating nature at the hands of the Grimpen Mire, “down in the foul slime of the huge morass which had sucked him in, this cold and cruel-hearted man is forever buried.” Interestingly, in the 21st century reinterpretation of the novel in Sherlock, the director of project H.O.U.N.D is not killed by nature, rather a government force indicating we have outpaced nature’s resilliance and now rely on social order to punish those who abuse nature.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman. London: MacMillan & Co. Ltd., 1953.

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